Weekly Maritime Security Report 24 October 2017
Weekly Maritime Security Report
India: Merchant vessel reports suspicious activity off Gujarat state
A merchant vessel reported that it sighted two suspicious crafts at 0100 hrs local time, 50 m away from their vessel for one hour. The vessel reported that nothing was sighted on the crafts as it was too dark, and the boats later moved away but remained in their vicinity.
PGI Analysis: It remains unclear whether those on board the crafts had criminal motives given the lack of detail in the report. There has however been an uptick in reports of pirate activity further north in the Gulf of Oman in recent months, including armed attacks against commercial vessels. Reports of piracy off northwest India have been rare in recent years since the end of the 2008-2012 piracy epidemic.
India: Robbers steal from bulk carrier at Kandla anchorage
Two robbers boarded a bulk carrier anchored at Kandla anchorage at 2200 hrs local time and stole ship’s properties. A duty officer raised the alarm on sighting the assailants, prompting them to flee.
PGI Analysis: Opportunistic robbers often target vessels anchored at Kandla. Although some robbers are reported to be armed, incidences of violence are rare, indicating thieves are predominantly armed for self-protection.
India: Merchant vessel reports suspicious activity off Gujarat state
Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr announced that an Iranian vessel with 19 sailors on board was seized near a Yemeni island by local fishermen. The ship was reportedly detained off the coast of Socotra. No further details were provided on the ship or its cargo.
PGI Analysis: The motive behind the seizure and the incident itself has not been independently confirmed, although Daghr’s comments indicate the ship was responsible for arms smuggling in the region. Both regional and Western sources have claimed that Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement, raising tensions between Yemen and Tehran.
Nigeria: Pirates kidnap crew from container vessel off the coast of Bonny Island
Eight armed pirates on board a twin-engine speedboat boarded a Liberia-flagged container ship Demeter 36 nm off the coast of Bonny Island at 0700 hrs local time and kidnapped six crew members. The abductees included the Master and Chief Officer.
PGI Analysis: Some sources have indicated pirates boarded the vessel after an exchange of fire, underscoring the persistence and violent nature of piracy in the region. Niger Delta-based pirates regularly stage attacks on merchant vessels off the coast of Bonny Island, most of which are kidnap for ransom attacks. Such attacks are likely to escalate in the coming months as the monsoon season comes to an end, allowing for calmer conditions for pirates to conduct their activities. Senior crew members are often targeted in the attacks in a bid to extract higher ransom payments.
Select Maritime News
Chile: Navy deploys to contain fuel spill near Puerto Montt
At least four Chilean navy vessels were deployed to prevent a wider fuel spill after the shipwreck of a salmon boat. The boat suffered damage and began taking on water in the area of Pilpilihue Beach, near the city of Puerto Montt. The boat’s captain immediately informed port authorities and the crew were successfully evacuated. An investigation was under way to determine what caused the boat to sink.
Cote d’Ivoire: Customs agents strike at Abidjan, San Pedro, Bouaké, Yamoussoukro ports
Approximately 2,000 customs agents ended a 48-hour strike at the ports of Yamoussoukro, Abidjan, San Pedro and Bouaké to demand the payment of bonuses and a reform of their insurance package. The agents demanded an audit of their insurance and more transparent management of the packages. Port operations in Abidjan were particularly affected by the industrial action. On 18 October, striking agents in the port of Abidjan attacked the local gendarmerie one day after police violently dispersed a protest. Negotiations between the agents and authorities started on 19 October, and according to local media sources port activity will remain slow until an agreement is reached.
Cote d’Ivoire: Update: Striking customs agents attack gendarmerie at Abidjan port
According to local media sources, striking customs agents attacked the gendarmerie post at the Port Autonome de Abidjan. The customs agents reportedly briefly detained the chief of the port brigade for an unspecified period of time time. Customs agents previously embarked on a strike at the port on 17 October, leading to clashes with police and the arrest of 13 striking agents. The customs agents are on strike over the promotion of former rebels integrated into the customs agency under the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme.
Egypt: Customs seizes 98 containers of contraband at Alexandria port in three months
Alexandria port authorities said that officials seized 98 cases of contraband and foiled nine forgery cases in July, August and September. The seizures were the result of efforts to improve security at the port. Officials also said that there had been 184 attempts to enter the port illegally and 278 cases of companies operating without a licence. Ports in Egypt often report contraband seizures.
Philippines: Duterte calls on Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur to crack down on Sulu Sea pirates
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has called on Indonesia and Malaysia’s naval forces to “blast” pirates out of the Sulu and Celebes Seas, which have seen heightened levels of piracy by Islamist militants since March 2016. Duterte said that given the Armed Forces have completed the re-taking of Marawi from Islamic State (IS) occupiers, he may divert the full force of the military to eradicating Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), an IS-affiliated group responsible for tens of kidnappings at sea since 2016. The three countries have gradually introduced joint naval patrols in the waters to counter piracy, and there have been fewer reports of incidents since early 2017.
South Korea: US aircraft carrier in patrols off east coast amid North Korea tensions
The USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier, conducted patrols near islands off the east coast of South Korea in a show of strength amid escalating tensions with North Korea over its nuclear missile programme. The warship sailed a 160 km patrol route and launched several fighter jets from its deck, as it conducted joint drills with 40 South Korean Navy ships. US Rear Admiral Marc Dalton said the exercise demonstrates that the US is ready to defend South Korea. Tensions are heightened after North Korea conducted tens of missile tests and two nuclear bomb tests since September 2016.
Yemen: CMA CGM alters congestion charges at Aden, Hodeidah ports
The Tunisian navy rescued 12 illegal migrants 70 km off the islands of Kerkennah after their boat ran out of fuel, local media reported. Increased pressure on migrant sea routes out of Libya has diverted activity to other parts of North Africa, including Tunisia.